A.B. Simpson, a name that people forget about and founder of Christian Missionary Alliance had a powerful experience with the Holy Ghost. We love holy encounters!
The Lord has a way of touching people that wouldn’t expect it. It has happened time after time in the history of the Church. Simpson’s encounter is not a surprise, either.
One thing you have to understand about the man is he had an upbringing deep in Calvinism, Presbyterianism, and being a Puritan. There was, can we say, no emphasis on the Holy Spirit in his theological framework. They believe in full on Cessationism.
Even though he was a Presbyterian, he wanted to win the lost. He took one of the first churches he ministered at and transformed it to be a place of soul winning. He did not have the power of the Holy Spirit yet but he did have the burden the lost. At least, he was on a good track for revival.
A.B. Simpson was setup for Power Evangelism
He really wanted to see the lost saved. If you are hungry for souls, it is only a matter of time before you figure out that the power of the Holy Spirit is how to do it. Being a Calvinist just won’t work. His little five points is anti-evangelistic.
In 1889, he moved to what become known as the New York Tabernacle on 8th Avenue in New York City. Around that same time, he was having trouble with his theology. He wanted to see more success in the mission of soul winning. He had to find the missing link.
It was around this time, he came to have a ministerial philosophy of “Jesus our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King.” Oddly, this became the cornerstone for the Gospel of the Foursquare under the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson as well.
The details of when he was baptised with the Holy Spirit is not completely clear but it was sometime around the time they moved to the New York Tabernacle. Shortly after that, he started preaching divine healing as an integral part of the gospel. It was not an addon to the gospel; it was the gospel just as much as salvation was.
The Assemblies of God did not exist yet and it was years ahead of the Azusa Street Revival. However, A.B. Simpson’s position on divine healing would become official doctrine on the Assemblies of God in 1916.
He would say in his book, A Larger Christian Life in 1890,
He is showing us the plan for a Christian church that is much more than an association of congenial friends to listen once a week to an intellectual discourse and musical entertainment and carry on by proxy a mechanism of Christian work; but rather a church that can be at once the mother and home of every form of help and blessing which Jesus came to give to lost and suffering men, the birthplace and the home of souls, the fountain of healing and cleansing, the sheltering home for the orphan and distressed, the school for the culture and training of God’s children, the armory where they are equipped for the battle of the Lord and the army which fights those battles in His name. Such a center of population in this sad and sinful world!
We can take to account that sometimes before 1890, he received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost but we are not sure when exactly.
A.B. Simpson and tongues
He is like many through history that struggled to believe that praying in tongues was the initial evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many believed it and many did not. It is believe that Simpson did pray in tongues but did not believed you have to in order to be baptized in the Holy Ghost.
The Christian Missionary Alliance developed a position that the fruit of the Spirit was the evidence of the Holy Ghost baptism and it was proved by a fruitful ministry. This was in directly conflict with the position what became the view of the Assemblies of God later, “The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance.”
As more and more Pentecostal came to Nyack College to study theology; this became more and more of an issue. Some believe it was the evidence and others did not. It would create quite the controversy early on in the Pentecostal movement and in the Christian Missionary Alliance.
Modern Day Connections
Around 1921, they started a bible school in Seattle called Simpson Bible Institute. It was named about A.B. Simpson who had just died two years earlier. One of the booklet said that Seattle was ideal because it put them several hundred miles closer to China and easier to get missionaries on the ground in Asia.
In 1989, after many moves, they landed in Redding, California and around the same time, launched the A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary.
What else Redding, California has become known for is Bethel Assembly of God or today, Bethel Church led by Bill Johnson and Kris Vallaton. This is the linkage of two generation of missionary soulwinning together for a common vision of the Holy Ghost evangelism.
Bethel Church even had a service at the university once a week that focus on healing the sick, an emphasis of A.B. Simpson. Students of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry also stay on campus in one of the dorms of the school.
The coming together of two streams to form a river is a power thing in the Kingdom of God. The Christian Missionary Alliance represents a history that influenced the Pentecostal revival prior to it even existing and Bethel Church represents a modern healing revival that was very much the heart of A.B. Simpson.
With that, there are many in the Christian Missionary Alliance that do not openly embrace the modern move of God but that is true with every revival. One generation has a hard time passing the Baton to the next generation. It is just the Christian Missionary Alliance people that struggle with this.